In this episode of MarieTV, we do have some adult language, so if you have little ones around grab your headphones now.
Hey, it’s Marie Forleo and you are watching MarieTV, the place to be to create a business and life you love. Now, today’s episode is adult in nature, so if you’ve got little ones around or anybody with sensitive ears now would be the time to put on your headphones. The reason why is we’re going to be discussing a new book that’s coming out and it’s called Pussy. Now, I know that title may offend some, but I have to tell you personally, I believe it’s brave and courageous and this is a conversation that we need to have.
Regena Thomashauer is an icon, teacher, author, mother, and founder and CEO of the School of Womanly Arts. She believes that women are the greatest untapped natural resource on the planet and she teaches them to create a life they love. The School of Womanly Arts began in Regena’s living room in 1998 and has grown into a thriving movement with thousands of graduates worldwide. Regena has written 4 popular books and has appeared on The Today Show, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, 20/20, and more. Her programs have been profiled in the New York Times, Elle, and New York Magazine.
Thank you so much for coming back on the show. I am so excited to have you on for this book. So let’s dive right into it. This is a very provocative, brave title. What possessed you to do this? To write this book? And, of course, to name it what you named it?
Do you think I wanted to write this book and call it Pussy? I wanted to do… have it be called anything else but Pussy. You know that better than anyone. You’re the one that really gave me the courage of my convictions and had me stand in my deepest truth, which was to take this title. I mean, I have a momma that’s going to be embarrassed. I have a teenage daughter that’s going to be embarrassed. But it was really, really important to me to take this word and use it as a wake up call, like any expletive. It is a smack upside the head to a culture that requires waking up in this particular area.
So that word, you know, a lot of people use it in a very demeaning way. We say it all the time and it’s pejorative…
Oh my gosh.
Can you speak to that?
Pussy is the worst insult across the boards. You know, if you call a man a pussy you’re insulting his manhood and his masculinity. If you call a woman a pussy your intention is to hurt her or humiliate her, fracture her humanity, have her feel like a sexual object. No one wants to be a pussy, much less have a pussy. But, you know, we live in a world where women right now are… there’s a huge piece of cultural conditioning that is unconscious. We don’t even pay attention to the fact that our little girls, when they’re growing up, we don’t even give them the name for that which is most essentially feminine about themselves. There’s no language. Like, when I teach at the School of Womanly Arts, a few hundred women, I’ll say, “What did your bits and pieces get called when you were little?” And I’ll get names like wiki, coo coo, pookie, knish, Walter Winchell, princess, front bottom, pee pee, wee wee, like all these crazy colloquialisms and no actual commonality of name. Some women will say, “Oh, it’s a vagina,” but that’s actually physiologically incorrect. It’s a vulva. The worst is that more than half of my students will say that it got called nothing. And when you don’t even give a little girl the language to connect with that which is most essentially feminine about herself, you’re disempowering her. And it’s not the same for little boys. When I have a room full of my guys for men’s night and I say what did your bits and pieces get called, they say, “It always got called a penis. What’s your problem?” So we perform this cultural clitoridectomy on little girls and women and we’ll never have access to our power until we can own every bit of this gorgeous female body.
I think it’s really important because I’ve heard you, you know, we’re friends and we go out together and I’ve heard you have conversations with people when they use that word and give them a schooling like they’ve never had a schooling before.
Gently, I hope.
Yeah, I mean, sometimes you’re gentle but you just go right in and that’s one of the things I appreciate about you. But let’s talk what this book is really about. And I think you’re taking a stand for reclaiming the values of the feminine, and you talk a lot about this inside the book, inside a patriarchal culture driven by masculine values. Can you talk to what that means?
Yeah. The world right now hates pussies and devalues the feminine. I mean, if we open the newspaper we’re going to see stories about unchecked violence, which is what happens in a world when the feminine withdraws. Women are actually withdrawn right now even though we have so many freedoms that we never had and so many opportunities that we never had. There’s a way in which we are stuck and shut down. And what am I seeing out there? I’m seeing one in four women are going to experience depression in their lifetimes and only one in five of those women are ever going to seek treatment. And that’s twice as many cases of depression as men have. Women are twice as likely. Right now heart disease is the number one killer for women. Every 34 seconds a woman drops dead of heart disease. And that’s in the area of health, but what about the area of career or work? Women right now, we make 79 cents on the dollar that men make. For African American women it’s 63 cents on the dollar and for Hispanic women it’s 53 cents on the dollar than men make. This is crazy. And in Hollywood last year, of all the top grossing films, only 9% were directed by women. So we live in a time where the voice of woman is not being heard, where she isn’t stepping into that sense of herself or that sense of her own power. And that… those are just the facts.
What do you mean by patriarchal values specifically? How do we distinguish between patriarchal and the feminine values?
Yeah, it’s a good question. A patriarchal value… right now in the world there’s a, you know, patriarchy, masculine and feminine, they’re both valuable but the imbalance occurs when men and the masculine are valued more than women and the feminine. So it would be like any imbalance. If you just ate pasta but no veggies, that’s an imbalance. You wouldn’t be healthy. You know, if you just did aerobic training and no weights, that’s not really healthy. So we have this imbalance where the masculine has kind of taken over and women are trying to man up instead of woman up and become, you know, they’re valuing what’s male and not even knowing what’s female about themselves. So, for example, the values of the masculine are… well, more like the patriarchy. The values of a patriarchal culture would be something like no pain no gain. Work, work, work, work, work, work, work. Don’t pay attention to what you feel. Just go for the bottom line, for the profit. It’s not about the collective, it’s about the individual winning and striving. And you don’t… it doesn’t matter what you have to do to get to the top, but you have to get to the top. That’s patriarchy. Whereas the values of the feminine are less known and we feel kind of weird if we act according to the values of the feminine. Those are things like we value interconnectedness, we see the sacred in even mundane things, you know, like this beautiful bowl of flowers. There’s spirit in that. We have passionate feelings, a full, wide range of passionate feelings. We have deep intuitions that, when paid attention to, oh my goodness, are so important. The value of receiving or surrendering is important for the feminine. So those are the things that are devalued right now and I think everyone suffers on account of that.
I agree and I think we are coming into a new time, but that’s why I was so excited to have you on. And I’m so thrilled that you wrote this book because we need to talk about it more and we do need a wake up call around these ideas. One of the things I found fascinating that I’ve learned from you, you know, it wasn’t always this way, was it? In terms of a patriarchal society. It’s only been the last 5 thousand years or so.
I know. And that seems like a long time, but it’s not a long time. Because if we went back, you know, 30 thousand years prior to the patriarchy, pussies were the bomb. They were everything. They’re like the star of the show. They were worshipped. Mother earth was revered. Women, because we could give life, we were thought to be sacred and considered sacred vessels and portals between the human and the divine. The power of the feminine was called upon. All those aspects of ourselves were considered so important for creativity and feeding the earth and the people. For example, let’s say we were… went back in time to ancient Egypt and we went out the very day that the crops were planted with all the other ladies in ancient Egypt. We would stand along the field with all of our sisters and we would raise our skirts and flash our pussies at the field of wheat. And we would charge the earth and we would say, “Wheat, may you grow as high as my pussy.” Right?
It’s kind of amazing.
Kind of. There’s this pretty historic cave painting and there’s a woman, a hunter, and then his prey. He’s pulling back his arrow and about to capture his prey, but where does the power come? There’s a line drawn from his woman’s pussy through his arrow into the prey so that there was a connection between the feminine presence even in the action of her man, her hunter, and how that community was fed.
I think it’s so fascinating because most of us don’t know that much if you go back to history that, that far. That was another fascinating aspect to your book. So you say that pleasure is the direct antidote to the crisis of confidence and powerlessness that women are experiencing right now. How so?
Oh, my. Well, you know as women we were never taught to pleasure ourselves. We weren’t taught to pay attention to our pleasure. We were taught to ignore our pleasure and we were taught to kind of man up and work really, really, really, really hard. I guess maybe one day we would get some pleasure at the end of that, that was the theory. But what happens instead is women get stressed and we live… I don’t know when women have been more stressed. It’s like this just universal stress for women right now.
And to be clear, if anyone’s listening, when you say women aren’t taught to pleasure ourselves, while sure you could include masturbation in this conversation that’s not really the essence of what you’re talking about fully.
I’m talking about something as simple as it could be taking a moment to feel the sunshine on your skin and connecting to the fact that you’re alive right now. It could be, you know, the genius of flowers. Those are just… they cheer you up. If you really look at those, it’s like a bowl of miracles right there.
Yes. But I’ll speak… so let me give voice for any woman right now who may be like a little bit like, “Uh, I don’t know about this. I don’t know if I’m buying into this,” because when we are in our masculine, which is, you know, we’ve talked about this before, it’s a place and it’s the energy that I live in very, very easily.
The mind can always go to, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I don’t have time for this. Like, I don’t have time to pleasure myself,” you know, meaning sit there and get the flowers. I’ve got to get dinner ready, I’ve gotta work, I’ve got to pay the bills. What do you say to those women who are like, “Yeah, it sounds like a fantasy but I don’t know if I can make this happen. It’s literally not in reality”?
Yeah. I say you have to listen to your little cells which are screaming. They’re saying, “Help. I’m so stressed right now. I’m being flooded with cortisol. Please do something.” Because cortisol, it’s bad news. It not only makes us very irritated and…
Stressed out and short tempered. Right? But it has health consequences. First of all, we feel depressed, we feel angry, we feel lonely, we feel disconnected. And cortisol is supposedly the key to inflammation in the body, which is one of the ways in which diseases start, with inflammation. So it’s… it’s dangerous to be stressed. Right? And we as women have this access to pleasure because we have 8 thousand nerve endings on our bodies dedicated to pleasure. So what we can do is with the mere power of our thought we can decide, ok, I am feeling a profound amount of stress at the moment. I think it’s time for a pleasure break. That could be throwing on your favorite song and just boogying for 30 second. It could be a hot, hot shower with your favorite bath gel. It could be an orgasm. It could be taking your tea in a real mug, you know? Like a real mug, not a paper cup. It’s those little tiny moments that actually flood your body with all of this beautiful… what happens is when you have a pleasurable experience it turns on neurotransmitters such as beta endorphin and prolactin. And what that does is flood your body with a sense of health, a sense of joy, a sense of connection, a sense of empowerment. It’s a way of stepping into your power through pleasure and it absolutely shuts that cortisol right down and then your little cells are like, “Thank you. I needed that.”
Yes. And I’m gonna give voice to this because we’ve had this conversation many times privately and I have it with many women that I know. So for anyone who is listening and like, “I still don’t know,” here’s what I know about running a business, that when I am more grounded and able to stay in touch with my sense of pleasure and ease and openness and love, I’m a way better leader, I make much better creative decisions, I take care of everyone around me, and everything just seems to run with more ease and more fun and more connection. And I know when I’ve gone too long in that really hard driving mode, everything suffers. Not only how I feel about myself but the results that I create. So that’s actually been one of my little tricks because when I can stay in that driving mode ain’t nothing gonna be like, “I ain’t got time for the bath, momma. I ain’t got time for it. Can’t happen.” But then I start to use those tricks and it really does work. I want to talk now about rupture because rupture is really another important component of your book. How do you define that for us women and what’s the power in recognizing it?
Rupture is whenever your heart breaks, things get busted up, it does not go your way. It is a huge part of life. Huge. You cannot avoid rupture. You cannot hide from rupture. Rupture will find you. Just like autumn then winter comes, you can’t stop it and you don’t want to stop it because if you do you won’t get spring. So it’s an interesting and magnificent way for us to access who we are as women and who our power is. But the problem has been because the feminine has been so devalued and we’ve been cut off from our ability to feel and when… I don’t know about you, but weren’t you brought up to be sugar and spice and everything nice?
Yeah. It wasn’t really… you don’t really spend that much time exploring those feelings of anger or really deep sadness or grief or when everything falls apart how do we deal?
How do we deal? We feel ashamed actually because what you’re supposed to say when someone says, “How are you?” There’s only time to say fine. No one wants to… you know, anyone would be shocked if you said, “You know, actually, I had… I am in a state of heartbreak right now. Will you sit down and talk to me?” We’re not taught to do that. But the nature of the feminine is like a piano with 88 keys. How boring would a piano be if it had one key? And mostly women behave like they have one key, middle C, and they just are like, “I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m fine.” And to really live what it means to be a woman, you want to be a virtuoso of every facet of your emotional life. You want to experience the beautiful thrilling little tinkling notes of joy and you want that pounding beautiful dark sorrow. In fact, the degree to which you can own your light is only the degree to which you can own your darkness. They go hand in hand. So it’s a beautiful thing for a woman to get to play every note that she has. That’s when you know you have a well lived life.
Yeah, it’s true. And I love some of the stories you told. I want to go now to the power of community and sisterhood because I think that’s one of the things that I’ve learned so deeply from you and I feel like we’ve been able to develop together with our friendship and I’ve seen you do it with your community for a number of years now. How important is it to have that community and to have that sisterhood? And what does it mean for us women?
Sisterhood is everything, but we live in this time of woman hating, you know, where we as women have been taught to be suspicious of other women, that she’s gonna want your spot, she’s going to want to stab you in the back, she’s gonna want to take your man, she’s not your friend. Now, where do we get that from? Well, we get it from living in a patriarchal culture that devalues women, dishonours women, disparages women. So what happens is we take on the exterior culture’s point of view and we think, “Oh, we must be kind of hateable or not important or maybe we’re not valuable.” And so we internalize the patriarchal viewpoint and then we start hating on ourselves. So when you hate on yourself you can’t love a sister. It can only happen if you take that radical and revolutionary step of standing for your own pleasure, which leads to self love. Because if you decide that you are important enough to have flowers by your side one day, then that… that is an act that takes so much courage to say, “Ok, I know I have no time, but I’m going to that flower store and I’m putting flowers on my desk and I am worth that.” And then you do that and then suddenly you are filled with a sense of self love. And as soon as you’re filled with love, like feeling that way about yourself, you want to tell another woman about it. You want her to have flowers on her desk. You want her to feel the consequences of her paying attention to her joy as a value in this world. And suddenly there is that sense of connection begins to build and my standing for my pleasure makes room for you to stand for yours and it spreads rather than spreading this virulent condition of self hate woman to woman, mother to daughter all over this planet, which is what happens currently. We have the potential now to spread the virulent condition of self love by taking a stand for our joy as the highest possible value right now. And what happens this is then I need you. And I need you not in the old needy kind of way that women used to be like, “Oh, without you, I can’t. I’m nothing.” But rather I need you to be as blazingly beautiful, brave, articulate, powerful, and successful as you can possibly be. Why? Because you standing in that portal opens that portal for me. And me choosing to be hot and fabulous and bold and blazing as I can be opens that portal for you to step into an even more powerful part of yourself so that we together hold open even more of the portal for more and more women through the discipline of pleasure to take sisterhood and take women to places that we have never been before. And that’s why I’m so excited about this book because I feel that women are ready to step into a bold new frontier of standing bravely for themselves, for their own pleasure, and that opens the portal where no matter where we are in this world we will see sister when we look into each other’s eyes and we will take this entire planet higher as a result of that. And that’s what you do for me, lady. That’s what you do for me. And I’m so grateful for that. And you do for so many, many, many millions of women.
Thank you so much. Well, I have to say congratulations on this book. I remember when you were writing it. I remember all the angst. Anyone who writes knows it’s not easy to put all of your heart and all of your soul and your ideas and your philosophies into a book and I just want to congratulate you because I think it’s phenomenal. And for everyone watching, again, I completely stand behind that title. I believe in it. I think you should all read it. But thank you again for coming on, Regena. This has been fantastic.
Now Regena and I would love to hear from you. What’s the biggest insight that you’re taking away from this conversation today? Leave a comment below and let us know. Now, as always, the best discussions happen after the episode at MarieForleo.com, so go there and leave a comment now. And once you’re there, be sure to subscribe to our email list and become an MF insider. You’re gonna get instant access to a powerful audio that I created called How to Get Anything You Want and you’re also going to get access to some exclusive content and special giveaways and some insights from me that I don’t share anywhere else. Stay on your game and keep going for your dreams because the world needs that special gift that only you have. Thank you so much for watching and I’ll catch you next time on MarieTV.
This woman from the very… like, back when I was so scared to write this book, like scared. Like probably as scared as I’ll be in September, she was the house that I drove 45 minutes to to get to her house because she is such my friend that I was like, “Marie, I think I have to call this book Pussy but I don’t know what to do and I’m so upset about it.” And she’s like, “Come over and I’ll do a muscle test on you.”